Release Date: Dec 8, 2017
Record label: Matador
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Belle and Sebastian prove themselves to be essential once again, releasing a classic EP with potentially two more on the horizon. As a casual fan of Belle and Sebastian, I've had the luxury of picking and choosing the moments in their discography that matter to me. Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance felt anything but necessary, and when you factor in the lukewarm reception of Write About Love, it's really been about a decade since the band has truly felt relevant.
Belle & Sebastian's recorded output from 1996 to 1998 is legendary, and rightfully so. In 1996, the shy Scottish indie-pop band released not one but two albums--Tigermilk and If You're Feeling Sinister--that are either perfect or darn close. Two years later came The Boy With the Arab Strap, a third straight full-length packed wall-to-wall with gentle jangle-pop, whispered melodies, lovely melancholy and clever, character-driven lyrics.
This past summer at Montreal's Osheaga Festival, I watched a 40-foot-tall Stuart Murdoch merrily play bongos on a Jumbotron--which is a collection of words that, 20 years ago, would've been impossible to string together, like trying to connect magnets with the same polarity. Back then, the prospect of the notoriously secretive Belle and Sebastian even performing live--let alone enthusiastically in front of thousands of people tossing around oversized corporate-branded beach balls--seemed to be as much of a soft-focus fantasy as the misty-eyed daydreams cataloged in their achingly intimate songs. But not only did Belle and Sebastian gradually blossom into one of the most generous and gregarious acts on the festival circuit, their records have become increasingly engineered to ensure the party rages on.
"The Visitor " Neil Young & Promise of the Real The question was never if Neil Young would release an anti-Trump record, but when. "The Visitor" reunites Young with the Lukas Nelson-led band Promise of the Real for a collection of protest songs that reaffirm his well-documented passion for the environment and communal activism. The record alternates between Crazy Horse-style rockers and gentle acoustic folk, though as always Young throws a few curveballs.